February 21, 2002

Test Spin: Lambchop – Is A Woman

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Lambchop’s Is a Woman reveals frontman Kurt Wagner far more modest and less ambitious than he was on 2000’s Nixon. Lonely pianos and strummed guitars replace lush strings and horns as the main support for Wagner’s gently sardonic lyricism and distinct voice, which alternates between a just-woken-up baritone to a whispered falsetto. The tunes are less engaging, but grow on you like germs in a petri dish, their artistic production revealing surprising nuances within the mix. And Wagner’s observations have always been the main point anyhow. Take the offbeat insight of “The New Cobweb Summer” (“The link between profound and pain/ covers you like Sherwin Williams”) or the mental-ward melancholia of “Caterpillar.”

The pinch of funk on the spectacular “D. Scott Parsley” speaks to Wagner’s obsession with soul-man Curtis Mayfield. And leave it to the Chop to save the best for last; out of nowhere, the closing title track breaks from a piano ballad into a casual reggae gem.

Archived article by Ben Kupstas